Aerospace giant Boeing will act as the lead donor in an $18 million project allowing MIT to construct a new, updated wind tunnel. The replacement of the 79-year-old Wright Brothers Wind Tunnel with a new facility will be “the largest and most advanced academic wind tunnel in the United States,” says an MIT announcement.
The new facility will be operated by the MIT Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics. The new facility will “improve ability to test autonomous vehicles (drones”) and aerodynamic components including wings, bodies, and wind turbines;” says the announcement. The new tunnel will significantly increase the test area and update the original 2,000 horsepower fan motor to require half of the power. MIT says that the new facility will allow for new classes and areas of research.
Boeing Chief Technology Officer and Senior Vice President, Engineering Test and Technology Greg Hyslop says, “Few relationships in aerospace can compare to the ties between MIT and Boeing. We’re thrilled and gratified to be part of this critically important renovation that will launch our relationship into the second century of aerospace.”
“…We’ve worked with the great people and facilities at MIT over the decades, and with this gift, we will continue in the years to come,” Hyslop says.
The current Wright Brothers Wind Tunnel was finished in 1938. The new facility will be on the same site. Dismantled parts of the current Wind Tunnel will be preserved by the MIT museum.
MIT is already a major innovator in the drone industry as in other areas of aerospace. The new Wind Tunnel may help them to move drone development ahead and attract new companies in the drone industry to the MIT environment.
“The new Wright Brothers Wind Tunnel will present MIT with a state-of-the-art research and teaching tool for many years to come,..” says AeroAstro department head Jaime Peraire.